Key Water Issues in the Mid-Coast Region

Our goal is to develop strategies to replace aging infrastructure, improve conservation, enhance regional supply options, more effectively share water, relieve pressure on rivers and streams, meet the water needs for coastal communities and industries, create redundancies so we are more resilient to natural vulnerabilities, and create a learning network for small water providers.
During Step 3 of our process, we identified a total of 18 key issues in 8 categories. These issues will be further developed with the partnership, including developing strategies and performance metrics to evaluate success in achieving our goal.
  • Water Conservation

    • The Mid-Coast needs a coordinated water conservation initiative/strategy that focuses on reducing water use, educating stakeholders, promoting incentives, and effectively using limited water supplies, especially in times of water shortage.

    • Rural residents and businesses need improved access to information, incentives, funding, and resources to help them implement water conservation measures.
       

  • Natural Hazards, Vulnerabilities, and Emergency Preparedness

    • The majority of water providers need redundancy, water system interconnections, and alternative sources to ensure access to safe drinking water in case of emergencies or shortages.
       

  • Climate Change Impacts

    • Climate change affects the health and well-being of coastal communities, and is having profound impacts on the ecosystem. Although we may not fully understand nor be able to accurately predict climate change effects, we can and should proactively adapt to climate change impacts at a regional scale. 
       

  • Local Capacity and Regional Collaboration

    • Mid-Coast water providers share the need for system resilience and reliable source water quantity and quality. Regular coordination and collaboration among water providers can improve access to resources and funding to support this need.

 

  • Water Quantity for Instream and Out-of-Stream Uses 

    • Summer streamflows are insufficient in some areas of the Mid-Coast to meet the instream water needs of fish and wildlife. Low streamflows contribute to water quality impairments (e.g., high temperatures) that negatively affect fish and wildlife.

    • Many streams in the Mid-Coast lack: 1) legal protections (e.g., instream water rights) to protect streamflows for the full range of ecological flows, and 2) streamflow targets to guide instream flow restoration efforts where there are already significant out-of-stream uses.

    • Some municipal and special district water providers are currently facing water shortages late in the summer and during dry years.

    • Rural residents and landowners, agricultural irrigators, and industrial water users currently experience chronic seasonal water scarcity due to limited water availability.

    • Some watershed systems, such as the Siletz, have insufficient water to meet the needs of all uses (both instream and out-of-stream) leading to ecological impacts on the rivers, insecurity for water users, and the potential for conflict.​
       

  • Watershed Health

    • Opportunities exist in the Mid-Coast for enhancing beaver habitat and management to improve water storage, stream health, and support the recovery of key native fish species.

    • Degraded riparian areas throughout the Mid-Coast negatively affect water quality, wildlife habitat, and overall watershed health. Opportunities exist to improve these areas.

  • Water Quality for Instream and Out-of-Stream Uses

    • Multiple river and stream segments consistently do not meet Oregon and federal water quality standards: high temperature and low dissolved oxygen threaten fish, and elevated turbidity affects the ability to treat and use water.

    • Low stream flow and high temperatures in the summer months, and high turbidity due to winter storms, pose challenges for drinking water suppliers to meet state and federal regulations to provide safe drinking water.

    • Self-supplied rural residents are increasingly concerned about drinking water quality and need adequate and timely data to determine regional, local, or site-specific water quality contamination issues that may pose a health risk.
       

  • Infrastructure

    • The degradation of aging water infrastructure used to divert, store, treat, and convey water can lead to water loss and water quality issues, and poses a threat to the health and safety of communities.

    • Infrastructure to manage water for self-supplied uses (rural residences and agricultural operations) is oftentimes undocumented, old, inefficient, and fails to meet current construction and quality standards, which negatively affects water security and source water quality throughout the region.

    • Multiple sources of funding are needed to address current and legacy infrastructure issues and to design and build resilient infrastructure that can withstand natural hazards and help communities adapt to climate change.

© 2020 Oregon Mid-Coast Water Planning Partnership